Doctors bemoan Haiti’s appalling conditions one year after quake

2011-01-10 15:04

Geneva– More than 1 million Haitians remained homeless a year after the devastating earthquake struck the impoverished nation, killing 222 000 people, a leading medical charity warned today.

Despite one of the largest international relief operations ever assembled, Doctors Without Borders said “Haitians continue to endure appalling living conditions” since the January 12 2010 quake.

Marie-Pierre Allie, the head of Doctors Without Borders France, told journalists by telephone that the cholera epidemic raging in the country was complicating relief efforts. The disease is estimated to have killed 3 600 people so far.

The head of the medical charity’s aid work in Haiti, Stefano Zannini, said conditions remained difficult in the country, the poorest in the Americas, and “many people remain extremely vulnerable”.

Health risks, as well as other problems, such as violence, continue to plague the country, especially in slum areas, which already received less assistance than city centres and refugee camps.

In a detailed report on the first year of response to the quake and its aftermath, Doctors Without Borders said the international community should improve its aid delivery system to be more effective, especially as it moves ahead into the reconstruction phases of the recovery effort.

The medical group spent 104 million euros (R923 million) in Haiti in the past 12 months.

But the United Nations and World Bank said last week that there was a large shortfall in funding. While leading governments promised $2.1 billion (R14 billion) for Haiti in 2010, only about $1.2 billion was dispersed.

Even prior to the earthquake, more than 70% of Haitians are estimated to have been living on less than $2 per day, and most had little access to healthcare, according to charities.

Much of Haiti’s infrastructure, including core government offices and health services, were destroyed last year.

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